Lunar Laser Ranging: A Continuing Legacy of the Apollo Program

  title={Lunar Laser Ranging: A Continuing Legacy of the Apollo Program},
  author={Jean O. Dickey and Peter L. Bender and James E. Faller and X. X. Newhall and Randall L. Ricklefs and Judit Gyorgyey Ries and Peter John Shelus and Christian Veillet and Arthur L. Whipple and J. R. Wiant and J. G. Williams and Charles Finney Yoder},
  pages={482 - 490}
On 21 July 1969, during the first manned lunar mission, Apollo 11, the first retroreflector array was placed on the moon, enabling highly accurate measurements of the Earthmoon separation by means of laser ranging. Lunar laser ranging (LLR) turns the Earthmoon system into a laboratory for a broad range of investigations, including astronomy, lunar science, gravitational physics, geodesy, and geodynamics. Contributions from LLR include the three-orders-of-magnitude improvement in accuracy in the… 

Tests of Gravity Using Lunar Laser Ranging

  • S. Merkowitz
  • Physics, Geology
    Living reviews in relativity
  • 2010
The gravitational science and technology of lunar laser ranging is reviewed and prospects for the future are discussed.


The Moon has played an important role throughout the development of human civilization. It is the only permanent natural satellite of Earth and the closest astronomical object in the universe.

Lunar laser ranging tests of the equivalence principle

The lunar laser ranging (LLR) experiment provides precise observations of the lunar orbit that contribute to a wide range of science investigations. In particular, time series of highly accurate

Apollo:. a New Push in Lunar Laser Ranging

APOLLO (the Apache Point Observatory Lunar Laser-ranging Operation) is a new effort in lunar laser ranging that uses the Apollo-landed retroreflector arrays to perform tests of gravitational physics.

Lunar Laser Ranging: Glorious Past And A Bright Future

Lunar Laser Ranging (LLR), a part of the NASA Apollo program, has beenon-going for more than 30 years. It provides the grist for a multi-disciplinarydata analysis mill. Results exist for solid Earth

Advanced Observations of Lunar Physical Librations and Gravitational Fields in Japanese Lunar Missions in the Near Future

. In the SELenological and ENgineering Explorer (SELENE) project which is the Japanese lunar program to be launched in 2003 by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) and National

30 years of lunar laser ranging and the gravitational interaction

The main oscillation amplitudes of the lunar orbit have been measured to precisions of a few millimetres, using data from 30 years of laser ranging to the Moon. Several key tests of the general

dG/dt measurement and the timing of lunar laser ranging observations

Two fundamental tests of general relativity are achieved using over three decades of lunar laser ranging (LLR) data—confirming the equality of the Sun's acceleration rate of the Earth and Moon to

The Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter Investigation on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission

The Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) is an instrument on the payload of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft (LRO) (Chin et al., in Space Sci. Rev. 129:391–419, 2007). The instrument is



Apollo 11 Laser Ranging Retro-Reflector: Initial Measurements from the McDonald Observatory

Measurements of the round-trip travel time of light from the McDonald Observatory to the Laser Ranging Retro-Reflector deployed on the moon by the Apollo 11 astronauts confirm the prediction of thermal design analyses.

Operation and performance of a lunar laser ranging station.

The observed signal strengths, the success ratios, and the major operating restrictions that have characterized the daily performance of the experiment can be used to optimize the design of such installations in the future.

New Test of the Equivalence Principle from Lunar Laser Ranging

An analysis of six years of lunar-laser-ranging data gives a zero amplitude for the Nordtvedt term in the earth-moon distance yielding the Nordtvedt parameter eta = 0.00 plus or minus 0.03. Thus,

Laser Beam Directed at the Lunar Retro-Reflector Array: Observations of the First Returns

Return signals from an optical retro-reflector array placed on the moon by the Apollo 11 astronauts were successfully detected with the Lick Observatory and a laser, and it was found that each return signal averaged more than one photoelectron.

Verification of the principle of equivalence for massive bodies. [from lunar retroreflector echo delay data]

Analysis of 1389 measurements, accumulated between 1970 and 1974 of echo delays of laser signals transmitted from Earth and reflected from cube corners on the Moon show gravitational binding energy

Eötvös experiments, lunar ranging and the strong equivalence principle

THE strong form of Einstein's equivalence principle, which dictates that gravitational binding energy will suffer the same acceleration in a uniform gravitational field as all other forms of matter

New test of general relativity: Measurement of de Sitter geodetic precession rate for lunar perigee.

Comparison of Earth-rotation results from lunar laser ranging and from very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) shows that the relative drift of the planetary dynamical frame and the extragalactic VLBI reference frame is small.

Further experimental tests of relativistic gravity using the binary pulsar PSR 1913+16

Fourteen-year observations of the binary pulsar PSR 1913 + 16 provided data consistent with a straightforward model allowing for the motion of the earth, special and general relativistic effects

Tidal deceleration of the Moon's mean motion

SUMMARY The secular change in the mean motion of the Moon, ri, caused by the tidal dissipation in the ocean and solid Earth is due primarily to the effect of the diurnal and semidiurnal tides. The